[Marxism] What is Israel's Goal?
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Tue Dec 30 18:32:48 MST 2008
By Neve Gordon
The first bombardment took three minutes and 40 seconds. Sixty Israeli F-16
fighter jets bombed 50 sites in Gaza, killing more than 200 Palestinians, and
wounding close to 1,000 more.
A few hours after the deadly strike, Israeli Prime Minister Ehud Olmert
convened a press conference in Tel-Aviv. With foreign minister Tzipi Livni
sitting on his right and defence minister Ehud Barak on his left, he declared: "It
may take time, and each and every one of us must be patient so we can
complete the mission."
But what exactly, one might ask, is Israel's mission?
Although Olmert did not say as much, the "mission" includes four distinct
The first is the destruction of Hamas, a totally unrealistic goal. Even
though the loss of hundreds of cadres and some key leaders will no doubt hurt the
organisation, Hamas is a robust political movement with widespread
grassroots support, and it is unlikely to surrender or capitulate to Israeli demands
following a military assault. Ironically, Israel's attempt to destroy Hamas
using military force has always ended up strengthening the organisation, thus
corroborating the notion that power produces its own vulnerability.
The second objective has to do with Israel's coming elections. The assault on
Gaza is also being carried out to help Kadima and Labour defeat Likud and
its leader Binyamin Netanyhu, who is currently ahead in the polls. It is not
coincidental that Netanyahu's two main competitors, Livni and Barak, were
invited to the press conference – since, after the assault, it will be more
difficult for Netanyahu to characterise them as "soft" on the Palestinians.
Whether or not the devastation in Gaza will help Livni defeat Netanyhu or help
Barak gain votes in the February elections is difficult to say, but the strategy
of competing with a warmonger like Netanyhu by beating the drums of war says a
great deal about all three major contenders.
The third objective involves the Israeli military. After its notable
humiliation in Lebanon during the summer of 2006, the IDF has been looking for
opportunities to re-establish its global standing. Last spring it used Syria as
its laboratory and now it has decided to focus on Gaza. Emphasising the mere
three minutes and 40 seconds it took to bomb 50 sites is just one the ways the
Israeli military aims to restore its international reputation.
Finally, Hamas and Fatah have not yet reached an agreement regarding how to
proceed when Mahmoud Abbas ends his official term as president of the
Palestinian National Authority on 9 January. One of the outcomes of this assault is
that Abbas will remain in power for a while longer since Hamas will be unable
to mobilise its supporters in order to force him to resign.
What is clearly missing from this list of Israeli objectives is the attempt
to halt the firing of Qassam rockets into Israel's southern towns. Unlike the
objectives I mentioned, which are not discussed by government officials, this
one is presented by the government as the operation's primary objective.
Yet, the government is actively misleading the public, since Israel could have
put an end to the rockets a long time ago. Indeed, there was relative quiet
during the six months truce with Hamas, a quiet that was broken most often as a
reaction to Israeli violence: that is, following the extra-judicial
execution of a militant or the imposition of a total blockade which prevented basic
goods, like food stuff and medicine, from entering the Gaza Strip. Rather than
continuing the truce, the Israeli government has once again chosen to adopt
strategies of violence that are tragically akin to the one's deployed by
Hamas, only the Israeli ones are much more lethal.
If the Israeli government really cared about its citizens and the country's
long term ability to sustain itself in the Middle East, it would abandon the
use of violence and talk with its enemies.
-Neve Gordon is the author of Israel's Occupation, University of California
Press, 2008. Further information about the book and his other writings can be
found at _www.israelsoccupation.info_ (http://www.israelsoccupation.info/) .
He contributed this article to PalestineChronicle.com. (Originally published
in the UK/Guardian – guardian.co.uk, December 29, 2008)
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